Friday, February 27, 2009

The Gift

~ The Gift~
Matt Hoffland

On the day that she was born
A gift was given to her
A package neatly wrapped in white
With a bow so gold and pure
Set gently by her crib,
The note on top did say;
"Don't open up this present please,
Until your wedding day.
For this box contains a prize that dear and true
A gift that only I can give to you.
So guard this sacred treasure
Where your purity is stored
Until that day love awakens
By the power of the Lord."



Through the years she gazed upon that box
She'd been blessed with long ago,
Wanting to know the contents
Of the prize beneath that bow,
Temptations rose to open up that gift beside her bed .
Then she happened on the note again
And this is what she read.
"This box contains a prize that's dear and true,
A gift that only I can give to you.
So guard this sacred treasure
Where your purity is stored,
Until that day love awakens
By the power of the Lord."



The day did come when a gentle man
Had come into her life.
His love for her was so strong
That he took her as his wife.
On their wedding night she took the box
From where it sat so long,
And as she laid it in his gentle hands
She sang this little song.
Oh, this box contains a prize that's dear and true,
A gift that only I can give to you.
I've keep this sacred treasure
Where my purity is stored
Until this day love awakened
By the power of the Lord.
So, awaken now and claim your gift,
That was promised by the Lord.

Read more...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Simple Goodness


It amazes me how many times I'll start writing something for this blog or my own journal, and then erase it because it seems like something only I would find interesting or helpful. I joke alot and use humor throughout my posts because I sometimes think the day to day lessons I'm learning wouldn't be of much use to anyone else--frankly not much of fascination really happens everyday in my life.

But I think that's part of the point God is trying to get through to me. Learning to love the simple things. Learning to view them as fascinating and wonderful, and special gifts from Him.

~Things like my 3 year-old niece getting excited because she and I are going to sit on the back seat together.
~Things like driving my Mom to run her errands while her car gets an oil filter change, and chatting about things as we drive
~Things like my older brother spending hours cleaning my dirt-lodged computer keyboard for me
~Things like a sunny day of 70 degrees
~Things like a peaceful car ride into work while I chat with the Lord

Things that in many aspects seem mundane and unimportant. But together they make the life God's given me.

Simple things to enjoy.

And to spread the joy of enjoying them to others.

Smiling at a sorrowful-looking stranger in the grocery store and watching their face partially lighten up and return the smile.
Writing a nice thank you to a fellow member on Paperbackswap.com or Swapadvd.com and getting a sweet note in return.
Asking someone I don't often talk to at church how they are doing, and actually listening to them tell me instead of moving on.

Just........finding delight in the small, seemingly insignificant things. While I learn to trust God with the big important ones that I have no control over and am trying not to be discouraged about. Such as oh, say, my future, my schooling, marriage, my parents once they hit old age, the economy, where America is heading--things that I have to daily leave in God's hands.

There's a line from a song by Hillsong United, that goes "This is my prayer in the battle, when triumph is still on its way."

Sometimes, in my life, I feel very much as though triumph is still on its way.

But I know God is already here.

And so are the simple things.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Little is Much

Does the place you're called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
Do you ever feel like that?  I do.  Sometimes, I feel like my life is very inconsequential.  Sometimes, I look at the things I do for God, and think Anybody could do this... I'm really not doing much for God at all.  Or, sometimes, I look at my life and think that it's no wonder I'm feeling all alone and hopeless.  I'm not all that important.  God has much more important people to worry about.  
Do you ever think that maybe God has forgotten about you?  I do.  All the time.  
 
It is great if God is in it,
And He'll not forget His own.
A few days ago I was time traveling through my memories and thinking of the days right after high school.  In those days I was haunted with questions.  What are you going to do now?  I didn't have an answer.  But, I had no doubt that I would get an answer.  Soon.  I expected a divine revelation any day.  A giant unveiling of "God's Plan For Rebecca"  Or at the very least a memo with "Step One" printed at the top.  

Do you know, I never got an anwer?  Never.  I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.  Except.  Oops.  I grew up already.  

So, yeah.  Sometimes I definitely think that maybe God forgot about me.  

But, here's the thing:

Right after high school I asked God what He wanted me to do with my life.  I gave him life and placed my future in His hands.  It's still there.  And maybe that's my answer.  Just give Him my life.  Just surrender.  Just live.  Everyday.  Without an answer.  Let God use me in the day to day stuff.  

There will probably never be an "Answer"  I don't know why I never realized it sooner.  

Some of us are called to definite paths.  Missionaries, people in the ministery.  Some people, God gives them a vocation, a calling with a name.  And they can say "God has called me to be a missionary.  It will be a lot of work, I know it will be hard, I will suffer, but, I know where I am going."  Others don't have anything so clearly-cut, packaged and precise.  Some of us are just called to live for Him.  No matter what comes.  Not knowing what may be asked of us, day in and day out.  But, being ready always to serve Him whatever crosses our paths.  

It is GREAT if God is in it....

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Today

We must try to take life moment by moment. The actual present is usually pretty tolerable I think, if only we refrain from adding to its burden that of the past and the future.
- C.S. Lewis

Sometimes life is busy and hectic and crammed with things to do now and things to be done tomorrow and even more on the next day. It is then that I begin to feel overwhelmed. My workplace is busy, with papers and things to do piling up; a co-worker is out sick and I’m the only one left to scramble to do both her work and mine. I have homework to do and a test coming soon. The choir concert is just weeks away and I’ve barely practiced. My entire family has colds and oh dear, what if I catch one, too?

I have to remind myself to take a breath and stop. I don’t need to worry about everything right now. Tomorrow will take care of itself. I may not be in control of all that may happen, but God is. And if take today, moment by moment, it won’t be quite so bad. It might even be better than I could expect.

So…whatever you do, whether you are overwhelmed with schoolwork, work, mundane or crazy turn of events, hang in there. Live today and don’t worry about tomorrow or all that may or might not happen. Don’t add to your burdens – give them to God.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coconut Cranberry Scones with Orange Curd

Orange Curd

1 C sugar
 1/4 C cornstarch
2 C orange juice
1/4 C lemon juice
3 eggs beaten untill smooth
1/4 C butter
1 Tbs orange zest

Bend together sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Wisk in juice and beaten eggs. Bring to a boil and cook 1-2  minutes.


Remove from heat and whisk in butter and zest. Cover surface with plastic wrap and chill.

Coconut Cranberry Scones

2 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs chilled butter, cubed
1/2 C coconut, shredded
1/2 chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 C coconut milk, or milk

Preheat oven to 400* F
Mix dry ingredients, then cut in butter until mixture is a coarse crumb texture. Leave some pea-sized chunks of butter. Mix in coconut and cranberries.
 
  Make a well in the dry mixture, and pour in the milk. Use a fork to pull the dry ingredients inward into the milk, just until combined. Do not over-mix.
 
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and form into a flat 8" round.
Cut into 8 wedges and place on a baking sheet 1/2" apart. Bake 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Server warm with orange curd and a sprinkle of coconut. Don't forget your cup of hot tea. 

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Friday, February 20, 2009

The Promises of God #1


Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. 1 Kings 8:56

Promise -
1. a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc.
2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based.

Promise #1
Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. 
~Isaiah 51:11 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

History



History is waiting to be made as each new opportunity passes before us.

~J. William Jennings II


(Picture of the Roman Baths in Bath, England with Bath Abbey behind. Taken by me, February 13, 2009.)

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

To College or Not to College....

... that IS the question.

It's kind of a controversial issue, so I've discovered.

I graduated from high school 8 years ago. I didn't go to college. Not necessarily because I thought it was bad to go to college. Because I thought I didn't have any reason to go to college.

But, I've been thinking lately about college. I'm not considering going to college. I'm just considering taking some classes. Maybe online, maybe clepping... something.

And I have to say the thought of studying to learn something new, and the idea of taking a class and working hard for a passing grade, and eventually (maybe) earning a degree... is rather exhilerating!

I was talking with a friend of my mom's the other day. She's a "career-woman" in the sense that she went to college, has a degree, works almost full-time. She's great at what she does. She's married now and has a little girl, and I think that she would love to be at home with her daughter all of the time. And some day, I'm sure she will. But, at one point in her life she was not married, supporting herself, and being a wonderful example in the community, a blessing and a help to a lot of people. Because of the college degree that she acquired.

She told me: "College isn't for everyone. But, I'm always in favor of education." That brought a whole new perspective for me.

Why should we ever stop learning? I'm not saying everyone should take a college course. I'm saying, let's not let graduating from high school stop us from learning.

As long as it is in my power to do so... I want to keep learning. Even if all I do is read something in the encyclopedia every week. Get interested in a subject. Check out some books at the library. Learn something.

The REAL question should be: "what should I learn first?"

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Closer

Each day is one day
closer to the end
And each day is one day
closer to the beginning

Darkness eases, creeps slowly,
like the beginning of an early dawn
Spring prying winter's fingers
away from the frame of the world

One less day of cold,
snow, grey, darkness.
One day closer to warm,
life, sunshine, color.

And I hold my breath and then let it out,
trying to control my impatience
One minute, one hour, one day closer
to both an end and a beautiful beginning

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Quote

Truth crushed to earth will rise again because no lie can live forever.

~Ben Stein - Expelled No Intelligence Allowed

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dr.Jak's How To Stay Warm and Look Fun in The Winter

Looking cute and fashionable in the winter can be a challenge. And I will be the first to admit that there are days when all I want to wear is jeans and a sweatshirt and I don't even care how I look!

Here's some quick tips to help you stay fashionable and warm at the same time:

1. We have to wear coats and hats, scarves and mittens so why not invest in some cute outerwear options? I love to mix and match scarves and hats, and try to match the colors with what I'm wearing at the time. Most of us don't have a budget that allows for endless coats and accessories, so when you do pick out a winter coat make sure you put plenty of thought into it. I like to stay away from black and brown and stick with more neutral colors that will go with any outfit.

Then I go crazy with accessories! If you're a knitter or crocheter go ahead and make some pretty scarves and hats and mix them up! Try different color combinations!

Check out the web for pictures of colors and textures to inspire you!
2. Wear Longjohns/Leggings, whatever.  They are a great investment I promise you! 
3.  Layers!  Layers are very popular and lucky for us very warm.  And here's a hint: Don't pack away your summer clothes.  Keep them as options right along with your winter wardrobe.  Wear a summer top with a long sleeved blouse underneath, throw a sweater and scarf over top and you're ready to go!  I've also seen a lot of people wearing capris or shorts with cute leggings and boots.  And summer skirts are totally ok, too!  Wear them with tights and boots or jeans.  There are no rules.  Use your creative juices and...
4.  Just because it's winter don't be afraid of using color.  On dreary days color is exactly what we need!
5.  Accessorize!  Accessories are a great way to bring color and style into any outfit.  A chunky necklace will totally dress up jeans and plain shirt.  Wear a pretty scarf in your hair, or tie it around your waist, or neck. 
6.  Don't be afraid to try something new!  Mix and match your jewelry.  Check out the vintage scarves at the thrift store.  Wear a summer top with a winter skirt.  Maybe buy a color you've never tried before?  I promise you'll feel adventurous!

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Monday, February 9, 2009

airport

blended in with the hum
created by many voices
I see her and two children
alone

tired, fresh from a flight
the baby yawns in her arms
and the toddler scowls
waiting

her eyes are weary, but then -
she smiles at the sudden sound
a new voice behind her
him

love, hope, excitement collide
four people in one corner
and hub-bub dims to background noise
together

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Someday...

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word


-Regina Spektor {The Call}



So often we have hopes and dreams that we never allow them to grow and blossom we squelch them and wait for another day. Someday, I’ll write that letter. Someday, I’ll learn to ballroom dance. Someday, I’ll write that story. Someday, I’ll sing a solo in church. Someday, I’ll change the world. Someday, Someday, Someday… What is holding us back from allowing our hopes to grow into thoughts and words- action?

So often that I hold back because of what I fear might happen. Fear paralyzing, constricting, breaking my own heart, hopes, thoughts and words. I hold myself back. Emotionally, I distance. When I do express it is simply the mask of who I think you want me to be. Crying out, I want acceptance. I walk in the shadows trying to mask myself, my soul. While I want you to see me and love me, I hide. I run. Then I commit murder. I kill my hopes. I kill them with my insecurities. I kill them with my fear.

Expression of who we are is dangerous I will admit. It involves the opposite of fear-trust. Trust is not easy, like its cousin forgiveness, we have to constantly choose it. We have to be vulnerable. We are choosing to follow those dreams and allow ourselves to hope, despite the fact that we might fail, we might be disappointed. But, if we choose to follow the fear rather than trust we ultimately suffocate our hearts until they simply fail to respond.

I am tired of living in fear of disappointment, failure, and people’s judgments. I want to live free from insecurities, breathing in the life and hopes that my Father has placed in me. The thing is that I have already been accepted, with all the imperfections, inkspots, and stains. I was loved and chosen even in a place of imperfection. If I am accepted then why do I constantly choose to defer due to a fear of rejection because of my “imperfections”? Why do I hide behind what I think I should be instead of living how I was created?

No more somedays.

"Today, I am going to start [begin the process of] living my hopes and dreams… Today."

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Quote - Oswald Chambers

"I will never leave thee of forsake thee."  Hebrews 13:5

If we have God's assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.

~Oswald Chambers

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stories

Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.

Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On Beauty


Krista's post on Ordinary Beauty has had me thinking for a while now. 
The thoughts are percolating in my head.  :)


And then the other day I had an interesting conversation with my 2 year old sister, as I fixed her hair for her:

Me: "That's a very nice face you have"
Little Sister: "God gave it to me"

Other than the immediate "awww" reaction, I immediately was touched at her simplicity.  Her absolute trust in God.  He did give her her face.  And why would He ever give her anything not nice?  He loves her!


I once heard someone say that when we complain about our own appearance we are saying to God: "I don't like your gift.  Take it back." 


As a young girl I struggled greatly with my appearance.  I hated my freckles.  Hated my boring eye color.  Hated my half curly/half straight hair.  Hated my crooked teeth.  I never once looked in the mirror and thanked God for giving me a face at all. 


There's really nothing wrong with my face.  It's perfectly functional.  And God made it just for me.  No one else has it. 


I guess I haven't completely overcome my vanity.  (That's what it is, really.  I'm not vain in the sense that I think I'm beautiful, rather my vanity comes in the form of being too vain to show my face without first taking a good long look in the mirror and doing what I can to make myself look better.)

Like, I said :) I haven't overcome vanity.  But, I resolve to look in the mirror everyday and thank the Lord for designing my face.  Just for me. 

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs

At this time of the year, here in the chilly cold northern portion of the US, I often find myself battling the winter blues, as I am sure you already know from my last post. Boredom, impatience for spring, listlessness, feeling tired and blah…all of these are often cured by spring and sunshine. But when all you have is cold, early nightfall and no sign of spring in sight, what do you do?

Winter blahs, winter blues, whatever you call them, here are a few ideas to help with them.

1) Put on a favorite CD, one that sounds particularly summery to you. For me, that means swing dance music or the group Until June. Crank it up and dance! The music will remind you of summer fun and the dancing will help release endorphones that will give you a boost of energy and cheer you up.

2) Read a really good book. Do you have a comfort read? A favorite book that you read during summer vacation or the summer reading club ages ago? Re-read it. As a character from Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart says, “Memories cling to books.” Read a book that has happy memories stuck to it.

3) Start a new hobby or pick up one that you haven’t touched in ages. Learn how to knit or crochet. Pick up scrapbooking and take care of all the photos lying around the house or even just organize them in pretty albums.

4) Sing. Sing along to a CD, join a community choir…SING. It cheers a body’s soul.

5) Bake or cook something that says summer to you. Something like Becca’s strawberry shortcake. Or something fresh, like a salad. Or just for fun, make iced coffee or a fresh fruit smoothie.

6) Watch a movie! Something FUN. Think 'summer flick.' Make popcorn, too!

7) Call a friend on the phone or get together with friends. Laugh. Have fun. Spend time cheering each other up.

8) Plant some bulbs inside or buy some fresh flowers. I have a bamboo plant on my desk at work and it is incredibly refreshing to see something bright and green at this time of the year. Bring a little spring inside with plants.

Any other suggestions? Any ideas to brighten up these last weeks of winter?

Read more...

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